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J Invest Dermatol. 2001 Nov;117(5):1179-85.

UVB-induced conversion of 7-dehydrocholesterol to 1alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 in an in vitro human skin equivalent model.

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Department of Dermatology, Carl Gustav Carus Medical School, Dresden University of Technology, Germany.


We have previously shown that keratinocytes in vitro can convert biologically inactive vitamin D3 to the hormone calcitriol (1alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3). This study was initiated to test whether the ultraviolet-B-induced photolysis of provitamin D3 (7-dehydrocholesterol), which results in the formation of vitamin D3, can generate calcitriol in an in vivo-like human skin equivalent model made of fibroblasts in a collagen matrix as the dermal component and keratinocytes as the epidermal component. Cultures were preincubated with increasing concentrations of 7-dehydrocholesterol (0.53-5.94 nmol per cm2 human skin equivalent) at 37 degrees C and irradiated with monochromatic ultraviolet B at wavelengths ranging from 285 to 315 nm (effective ultraviolet doses 7.5-45 mJ per cm2). In our in vitro model irradiation with ultraviolet B resulted in a sequential metabolic process with generation of previtamin D3 followed by the time-dependent formation of vitamin D3, 25-hydroxyvitamin D3, and ultimately calcitriol in the femtomolar range. Unirradiated cultures and irradiated cultures without keratinocytes generated no calcitriol. Irradiation of skin equivalents at wavelengths > 315 nm generated no or only trace amounts of calcitriol. The ultraviolet-B-triggered conversion of 7-dehydrocholesterol to calcitriol was strongly inhibited by ketoconazole indicating the involvement of P450 mixed function oxidases. The amount of calcitriol generated was dependent on the 7-dehydrocholesterol concentration, on wavelength, and on ultraviolet B dose. Hence, keratinocytes in the presence of physiologic concentrations of 7-dehydrocholesterol and irradiated with therapeutic doses of ultraviolet B may be a potential source of biologically active calcitriol within the epidermis.

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